Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin. Insufficient insulin production hinders the ability of tissues to absorb glucose (sugar) supplied by food and drink leading to dangerously high levels of glucose in the blood. Left untreated, high blood glucose can lead to extremely serious health complications. T1D occurrence is currently growing at 3% per annum. The risk of developing T1D is 10 times greater than the general population in children with a parent that has the condition. Coeliac disease and T1D share common genetic predispositions, meaning that these conditions often co-exist.
As T1D is an autoimmune disease, it is unsurprising to find that the literature implicates a number of potential triggers and exacerbators of this condition, including genetics, the timing of introduction of both cow’s milk and gluten into the diet, maternal diet (gluten content and vitamin D status), infections (viruses are a known trigger of autoimmunity), stress, toxic load, the balance of the gut micro flora, digestive system health and the integrity of the gut barrier.
It is nearly 15 years since the concept that autoimmunity develops via a complex interaction between our genetic base and our environment was first postulated. The single largest point of interaction between our environment and our genetic base takes place in the gut – the small intestine has the surface area of half a badminton court.
Our genes are set at conception, however our environment (composed of dietary choices plus viral/bacterial/toxin and stress load) is to a large extent controllable, as is the health and permeability (leakiness) of the gut. Both current thinking and clinical experience show that by modulation of both the environment and intestinal permeability (leakiness of the gut), it is often possible to not only arrest the development of autoimmunity, but also potentially even reverse it.
‘……..once the autoimmune process is activated, it is not self-perpetuating; rather, it can be modulated or even reversed…..’
Professors Fasano and Shea-Donohue – Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2005: https://tinyurl.com/yyz3vom2
The destruction of the pancreatic cells is a gradual process (even though symptoms may appear suddenly). There is therefore a window of opportunity to comprehensively evaluate environmental triggers and digestive system imbalances that may be both triggering and exacerbating this significant condition. ‘It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so’…